O-line key for Bears to turn season around


O-line key for Bears to turn season around

Twice in the span of barely a year, the Bears have accomplished major season-altering turnarounds. Now, to save 2011, they need a third.

And the group squarely at the crossroads with the heaviest turnaround load, as it was at the off week in October 2010 and again after the consecutive losses to New Orleans and Green Bay in September, is the offensive line.

The line was the point of the spear that reversed the slide last year after the sack nightmares against the Giants, Seahawks and Redskins. It was the main difference going from five sacks against Atlanta, six at New Orleans and three vs. Green Bay to just nine sacks over the next seven games.

But Caleb Hanie was sacked four times at Oakland and seven by Kansas City and the offense has averaged less than four yards per carry in three of the last four games.

The line, and the Bears, are at a crossroads.

I'm completely confident in those guys, said Hanie, who took blame for some of the sacks by the Chiefs in particular. They're playing their butts off in there. From left tackle to right tackle, from J'Marcus Webb to Lance Louis, they're going to fight, and that's what type of group they are, and I'm confident they'll have a good game.

They will need it.

Broncos battles

Where the Chiefs came into the Bears game with only 13 total sacks, the Broncos have 32 and with edge rushers in end Elvis Dumervil and linebacker Von Miller significantly better than what either Oakland or Kansas City fielded.

They are fast. They are very fast, said line coach Mike Tice. They are very tenacious. They remind me a lot of the Steelers. They get after it pretty damn good.

Miller in particular; the Bears think enough of him to put a red 58 jersey on a scout-team linebacker to condition the offense to accounting for Miller.

Hes a phenomenal player, Tice said. Were going to know where hes at all times.

Confidence crisis?

The line was not helped by play-calling in the fourth quarter vs. Kansas City that consisted of 15 pass plays and two runs but played generally OK except for Louis, who had perhaps his worst game of the year. He was beaten by speed rushers for multiple sacks after a steady run of strong performances previously both as a blocker and running down a Raider to save a touchdown.

Now he is at a particular crossroads with the Bears needing him to put a nightmare game behind him.

I think theyve been doing a great job, Tice said. We had unfortunate circumstance with one of our players who didnt play up to the way he had been playing. For a guy who has been thrown over there, at right tackle, who has been holding the fort pretty good. Im not down on him. Hes down on himself, a little bit right now. I dont think he should be. We could have helped him as a staff, a little more, and we will, moving forward.

Hes got to bounce back, and we all got to bounce back.

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

USA Today

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

Kyle Fuller caused a bit of a panic late Friday afternoon when a report dropped that he signed an offer sheet with the Green Bay Packers. For a few hours, the prospect — even if it was always unlikely — of the Bears losing their best cornerback to their arch rivals to the north loomed over Chicago. 

For Fuller, though, he said he barely had time to think about the possibility of cashing in on his breakout 2017 season with the Packers. The Bears quickly matched the offer sheet, officially announcing the four-year deal Tuesday that makes Fuller one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL. 

“It was crazy not really knowing what to expect,” Fuller said. “I would have never expected it. But when (the Packers’ offer sheet) came, it was definitely something to consider, just on the business side of it. At the end of the day, how it all played out, I’m definitely happy.”

Fuller sounded like someone who took a more passive role to his quasi-restricted free agency that was set about when the Bears placed the transition tag on him, allowing them to match any offer sheet that he were to sign. Fuller said he didn’t know all the details of what was going on with offer sheets coming in and negotiations with the Bears.

“I kinda was just getting the information from (my agents) and going with the flow of everything and knowing that at the end of the day it would end up working out,” Fuller said. 

The $14 million average annual value of Fuller’s contract ranks fifth among cornerbacks, behind only Washington’s Josh Norman ($15 million), New York’s Trumaine Johnson ($14.5 million) Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes ($14.02 million) and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson ($14.01 million), according to Spotrac. 

Fuller said he considers himself a top-five cornerback in the league, and he played like someone who could wind up in that discussion in 2017. The 2014 first-round pick was one of four players to break up 20 or more passes last year, and he picked off two passes in December while providing excellent support against the run. 

“We could not be happier to have Kyle under contract for four more years,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “We feel he is an ascending player on our top 10 defense and we look forward to him having many more productive seasons here in Chicago.”

That's right, Chicago. John Fox is coming to a studio near you


That's right, Chicago. John Fox is coming to a studio near you

So apparently John Fox is getting bored.

The former Bears head coach who led the team to three consecutive last-place seasons from 2015-17 just signed with ESPN as a NFL studio analyst.

He’ll be getting paid to dish out insider information on players and what’s happening on the field — details that frustrated Bears fans could not get out of the often elusive Fox

This is great news if you had a void in your heart that only John Fox quotes could fill — especially in case his “We don’t know exactly what we’re doing” and "Sometimes it's hard to measure what's behind the left nipple"  hot takes weren’t cutting it anymore

But more importantly, Fox’s new position brings up a new burning question: What ex-Bear will be a better analyst?

What will the Fox say? Will he be able to muster more than 10 words out of Jay? The NFL season needs to get here sooner.